The band(s): Penny & Sparrow, Lowland Hum, Watching for Foxes
The venue: Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids MI
My best friend fell in love with Penny & Sparrow awhile back and tried to get me to listen to them. I kind of did, but my heart was elsewhere at the time and I put them on the back burner.
Then one day this past winter, I mentioned something about some song that was my "Lay on the floor, weeping" song. She sent me the link to Rattle, by Penny & Sparrow.
And it was at just the right time. My heart was ready for Penny & Sparrow.
She said, "If you love them, they're going to be in Grand Rapids in April and I'm going. You should come."
I said, "I'm not sure. Does everyone just sit around crying listening to their music?"
She assured me that while yes, their live music retains it's deeply emotional resonance, they are also delightful performers and it would be a great time.
So I bought tickets.
My husband and I arrived toward the end of Watching For Foxes' set, so I don't feel qualified to make a judgement call on their performance. It didn't grab me, but that's not really a meaningful assessment so go check them out and see what you think.
Lowland Hum is a charming husband-wife duo who harmonize brilliantly. From my vantage point, I couldn't actually watch them, and I was sandwiched between two tables of chatty girls, so I feel again like what I can pass on about them is pretty limited. I liked what I heard enough to investigate them further today, and I bet that if I knew their songs, I would have been able to connect more to the live show. I will say that pretty much every note that came out of Lauren's mouth was a real delight. Beautiful voice.
Penny & Sparrow came on stage eventually, opening with "Gold", one of my favorites, and segueing smoothly into "I Wanna Dance (With Somebody)". It really set the tone for the evening perfectly and I finally understood what my friend had meant about the atmosphere at their live shows.
Musically and lyrically, their songs touch deeply, inspiring "tasteful moans" and gentle swaying. But their personalities protect the audience from getting swamped or weighed down. They banter with each other between songs and make the audience feel like they're a part of an intimate circle where we all can be vulnerable but we don't take ourselves too seriously.
And in case you're interested in the opinions of the unborn, I'm six months pregnant and the only song that got the Bean moving all night was Serial Doubter. It's a good choice and overall, I feel pretty good about Penny & Sparrow being her first show. Well, technically Frank Turner in January was her first show, but her ears didn't work yet so I don't think it counts. (Do you like how I pretend this one counts even though she's not fully cooked yet?).
And here's just another one that I love. You'll have to go find more on your own. I'm not the YouTube.
One more note about the atmosphere - I've never been to a show before where the audience was so quiet and attentive. It was brilliant! Brilliant. Except the drunk girls at the table next to mine, who spilled three drinks (one made it all the way over to our table and all over our stuff!), knocked over a bar stool, kicked me, elbowed my bestie in the back, and chatted through nearly the whole thing. People. Just don't be like that. If you a come to a concert, respect the music, respect the other people in the audience. There are lots of other places you can be a drunk jackass. /end rant.
Anyway, to sum it all up, or TL;DR or whatever:
Penny & Sparrow is great. Incredibly talented and personable and very accessible. If they come through your area, you should absolutely go see them and until then, find every song you can on YouTube and buy all their albums. They even have a Christmas album, which, if you love Christmas like I do, will murder your heart in the very best way.